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Dr. Bill Austin

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Your Dog Can't Swim

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"You're with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company" - Diane Von Furstenburg

The grace of forgiveness

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How Disease Impacts A Relationship

Overcoming the Holiday Blues

Talking Dog for Sale

Trying to Blend a Blended Family

The Worst Beating I Ever Took

"It's my fault!"

You had it last!

It's All About Me!

The grace of forgiveness

Cooling the brain

Life's Puzzle-Box Top

Simon Says

Unenforceable Rules

Stone Face

It's All About Me!

You Lost That Loving Feeling

Don't Tell Me What To Do

Do it now

No Opportunity to Repair

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Professional Columns -
Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin


Doesn't it drive you crazy the way some people use the television remote?  It's very frustrating when someone goes through the channels without pausing to see what's showing. One channel might have some major announcement like this, "There has been a devastating earthquake in...? But before we can find out what happened, they are off to another channel. "Wait! Wait! Go back to that announcement!" Either we cannot find it or by the time we do find the channel, the anchor person is talking about something else.

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There are some of us who communicate that way.  For example, we might voice an issue that is bothering us but before our partner can respond, we close the communication door by saying, "I don't want to talk about it." Something is bothering us but we don't give our partner an opportunity to be supportive or repair the relationship.

Probably, at one time or another, each of us has been blind sided by someone unloading anger on us. They spew out anger by accusing us of many wrongs that have been "globalized." Judging by all the accusations, it is obvious that they have been sitting on their anger for some time and it has fermented. Whatever we did, they're taking personally.

Judging by all the accusations,
it is obvious that they have been sitting
on their anger for some time
and it has fermented.

What makes it ever more frustrating is when we try to say anything and it's brushed aside by them saying, "I don't want to hear what you have to say."  It seems  obvious that these people are not interested in relationship repair or in knowing there might be another explanation - that these actions that they take so personally has nothing to do with them.

We leave and, after cooling off, we try to approach them again, only to be be greeted by, "It is over. I don't want to talk about it. Why can't you let go?"

They don't give us an opportunity to tell our story, so we leave with more bad feelings. It is as though they gave us a grenade with the pin pulled but we're not supposed to talk about it. We are just to hold the grenade and feel all the feelings. Of course, what they have done creates resentment, which leads to a sense of distance. We know we can't trust them so we become more careful of what we say and do around them.

In a study of how couples relate, Dr. Gottman, from the University of Washington, discovered that relationships heal and function better if couples will allow their partner or themselves to repair a wound or angry remark.  We will disappoint and hurt one another - sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally - so it is extremely important to revisit the wound or incident in order to repair it.

We don't want resentments and distance to build up in our relationship.

Dr. Austin has decades of experience dealing with relationships. He charges clients on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. His first book, Creating Our Safe Place: Articles on Healthy Relationships, was published in 2004. His second book, Keeping It Safe, was published in 2009 and can be purchased through,, and at the Parrish Book Store in Virginia Beach.  He is also a sought-after speaker at meetings and seminars.

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